"Actual life was chaos, but there was something terribly logical in the imagination." Relate this quote to "In the Penal Colony."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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We can usefully relate this quote to the theme of justice and injustice, which is of course extremely prevalent in this story. The new Commandant is clearly trying to produce change through a system of neglect, resulting in a very chaotic system, which is made all the more complex thanks to the old Commandant's assistant who tries to maintain the same strict system of rules and regulation that marked the old Commandant's term of service. The chaos of this system is marked by a rather perverted sense of logic: no injustice is accepted. Prisoners are unable to defend themselves and are accused by other people, and are then punished without any form of hearing. Logic therefore in terms of justice and injustice is therefore taken to its extreme: the penal colony is supposed to be the seat of justice, and therefore its punishment and control of prisoners cannot possibly be unjust. Of course, this allows injustice to masquerade viciously as justice, whilst the opposite is true.


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